Marion West, retired cattle rancher

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The man on the other end of the phone was Marion West, a retired cattle rancher from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. He was calling to introduce himself to Vy, his long-lost cousin.

"I didn't know she was African-American," Marion says. "I just called her up. I said, 'Hey kiddo, I hear you're my cousin,' and I talked to her a little bit. Then maybe a day or two later, I called and told her to come down for dinner."

Marion and Vy can thank modern science for helping them fill in their family tree. In 2005, Marion submitted a DNA test to a worldwide database, hoping to find people who share the last name West. The database revealed that Marion's grandfather and Vy's grandmother shared a last name and a link through blood.

After talking to Marion, Vy and her daughter Noelle decided to accept his dinner invitation and travel to Poplar Bluff.